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player tips

13

June

There can always be an excuse for why something can’t or didn’t get done. It’s too early, too cold, too late or too difficult. But people who set goals and really want to achieve something don’t make excuses. They simply find a way to get it done and make it happen, regardless of the obstacles.

Stairs

I was chatting recently with a rink manager about an NHL player. This arena manager described the player as ‘one of those kids who came to the rink to run stairs‘. He would show up at the rink unannounced, ask permission to run the stairs, and there in the dark – the only one in the entire building – he would start his workout.

Eventually the arena manager started turning on the lights for this athlete and over time developed a friendship.  Sometimes friends would show up to run stairs with him, but eventually they would drop off and within a week or two, it was back to this one player running stairs, alone.

One day the arena manager asked the athlete what happened to his buddies. They had work. They went to the beach. They went fishing. They went to a movie. They were tired . . . The excuses were endless.

However for this one player who set a goal, who wanted to make the most out of his hockey career and play at the highest level he possibly could, there was no stopping him. This was his priority and he wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of it. There were no excuses, ever, for why he couldn’t find time in his daily routine to workout and best prepare himself to reach his goal.

There is a quote that says, “If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.”

So this summer ask yourself, are you finding a way, or are you finding an excuse?

19

April

April Is The Season of Champions

Posted by Greg Carter

April is one of the great hockey months. In the NHL we have the push to the playoffs, which means a few things: the intensity ratchets up several notches, the speed of the game shifts up a gear or two and of course the facial hair is grown out. During April we also have college hockey’s Frozen Four. This is another great tournament as unpaid players are putting it all on the line not for a huge paycheck, but rather for the simple right to win a championship.

You can’t help but watch the incredible hockey this time of year and wonder, ‘what does it really take to get to that level of play’ . . . not just playing at the highest level, but to advance through the regular season and the playoffs and ultimately hit the ice and play on the biggest stage, under the brightest lights for the right to hoist the biggest trophy.

For most of players, and you’ll hear this in post-game interviews, the ‘what it really takes’ is determination. Not just team determination, but individual determination.  And that determination didn’t just start at the end of the regular season or the weeks leading into the playoffs as the team fought to make the post season. For the most successful players, that determination started a long time ago in a basement, garage, backyard rink or local park.

Determination goes hand and hand with hard work. The great Vince Lombardi once said “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Every hockey player wants to win, wants to make the playoffs, wants to play for the championship and wants to hoist the trophy. The reality is that the players who do end up in these games are the ones who have realized at a young age what it really takes to get there. First and foremost it requires a love of the game. After that, it takes commitment, determination and hard work.

The best players that I’ve played with have all possessed these traits. They were the guys at the rink first and off the ice last. They loved shooting pucks. They loved practicing and trying to get better every day. And I mean every day. They loved being at the rink, and when they weren’t they were making mom and dad upset by staying at the local rink two hours too long. They were quintessential rink rats, who also had skill, determination and weren’t afraid of hard work.

So when you see players on TV hoisting a trophy, some doing so in tears, it’s important to understand that the journey for these players didn’t start at the beginning of the season. It started at the beginning of their recognition that with determination and hard work, there can be no limits to your success.

When does your journey begin?

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08

April

When players sit down and think back upon the long hockey season, there are plenty of ups and downs throughout the season that can be reflected upon. There are the practices and games when everything seems to be going great, and then the times when the pucks are hitting the pipe, passes are bouncing off the stick and nothing seems to be going right.

Good players are able to fight through the ups and downs and consistently bring an effort to each practice and game. There are the times when you feel like you played well but the team loses, other times the team wins without feeling like you played your best game.

Sorting through the individual, as well as the team ups and downs is a key part of evaluating your season, and ultimately setting goals for your summer training. When starting the process of evaluating your season,it’s important to separate out team performance from individual performance. All too often personal goals get lost in the long season and players, as well as parents, start to think that if they team did well, they must have also improved individually. Unfortunately this is just not the case.

To do a thorough job evaluating a season, parents should help their son or daughter take a close look and evaluate personal strengths, and even more importantly, personal weaknesses, which are the key opportunities for positive growth and player development.

Most, if not all of the best hockey players realize early on in their career that in order to reach their full potential they have to set goals, train with those goals in mind, and try to get better each and every day. The process all starts with an honest self-evaluation of the season you just completed, not as a team, but as an individual. Once you determine the player you are today, the fun begins in mapping out the path to become a better player in the future.

To get started with your evaluation, take the time to do the following:

Break down your game into a few categories such as skating, stickhandling, shooting, passing and teamwork. For each of these areas give yourself a grade of 1-3, with the higher number representing a higher competency in that skill area. Remember to be honest in this evaluation; you can only improve if you recognize the areas that need focus.

Once you have graded yourself, start to search out opportunities to improve in these areas. There are plenty of materials to read online, including our Coaches Corner, as well as training aides, summer hockey camps and weekend clinics.

There is a great saying “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me”. Remember this throughout the summer as you work hard training to improve on the skills you have identified in your post season evaluation. There is no easy path to success, and a thorough evaluation followed by a goal setting exercise is a huge first step down the path to success.

Good luck!

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